Films | Movie Reviews | NO ONE KILLED JESSICA – Review


Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on January 8, 2011 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Ronnie Screwvala, Zarine Mehta, Siddharth Roy Kapur
DIRECTOR – Rajkumar Gupta
WRITER – Rajkumar Gupta
CAST – Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan, Rajesh Kumar, Myra
MUSIC – Amit Trivedi

Film-making is story-telling that can create inspiration out of nothing. It can move, shock, shake, stir and touch corners of our lives that rarely any other art form can. If used with skill cinema can also transform.

However, ‘No one Killed Jessica’, director Rajkumar Gupta’s second outing after the (much-celebrated) debut ‘Aamir’ refuses to tread that path. It doggedly takes the route of being a tea-n-biscuit (Read time-pass in not a fun way) movie with few whistles and no tears. Except for maybe the pain of the real incidents that make up the story of the film.

The film is based on the Jessica Lall murder case that raised several questions on the politics of power and the inefficacy of the judiciary system of our country. With the help of several agencies, the media being one of them, the case became a movement arousing the will of an otherwise dormant democracy.

The film outlines the full journey of the movement, from the murder to the justice. In its effort to sculpt a chest-thumping entertainer it swings the whole gamut of faithfulness to fictitiousness. This swinging is unapologetic and within the context of the film is acceptable. However, the same cannot be said about variety of creative decisions that make up the film.

As a document of political injustice and the resultant human misery the film presents a mixed bag. Again, it swings from sensitive and mature to tacky and unthinking. If the character of Sabrina Lall (Jessica’s sister played extremely well by Vidya Balan) is handled with a tender humane-ness, the casting and treatment of other characters like the parents, the lawyers and most surprisingly Meera, the journalist (played lukewarm by Rani Mukherjee) is shockingly petty. We lose count of the number of times we are told she is a ‘bitch’ but all we see are archaic representations of a smoking, foul-mouthed ambitious woman who dresses extremely badly even when on TV doing what she is a star for. Characterisations lack any kind of arc, a must in a human drama as this one. Combined with a lagging screenplay (Rajkumar Gupta) and loose editing (Aarti Bajaj) it almost becomes the nemesis of the film. However, the music by Amit Trivedi maybe called one of the saving graces of the film.

The other one being a tight, controlled and compelling performance by Vidya Balan who never misses a beat or lets go of her character; playing it with as much sincerity as talent.

The film hinges on a certain ambiguity and lack of confidence exhibited both in its writing and direction. Packaged under the larger blanket of presenting a portrait of Delhi, its idealism seems misplaced if at all there is one. Even while it makes a masala of the story it is a little more serious in its commitment than was Rajkumar Santoshi’s, ‘Halla Bol’, a similar precedent with similar interests. But only a little.

For a film based on an incident that became an event large enough to stir the consciousness of a whole nation and its system, this proves rather reductive. The limited ambition and even lesser result are disappointing to say the least. Is it really unfair to ask a little more from a story about a real life events this important, even if told for mere entertainment?

Fatema H.Kagalwala

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